Monday July 25th

Due to Vacation Bible School, our blog will be on pause and will begin again on Monday August 1st.

Please be in prayer for this year’s Vacation Bible school, our teachers, students and also our family day on July 31st.  As families join us for worship that day, they will see what their students have experienced through the week.  The Gospel will be presented this morning also.  Please remember to pray that those who God is drawing may be present and open to the message of salvation.

Thank you so much.  I’m looking forward to being in the Word together with you again next week.

Pastor Steve

July 21st 2 Samuel chapter 13

Thank you again for being numbered with those who are in the Word together!  As we dive into chapter 13 this morning we begin to see another example of James 1:14-15 “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed; and lust when it has conceived bringeth forth sin and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death.”  

The reading may be a bit confusing in regards to the intertwined relationships in this chapter.  I will begin by shedding some light on the “who is who” of these verses.  It seems a bit confusing when we see that the text states that Tamar was the sister of Amnon’s brother Absalom.  Although Amnon, Absalom and Tamar were all siblings, Amnon had a different mother than Tamar and Absalom.  So Amnon plotted and then raped his half sister Tamar.

What Amnon did was sickening and one of the most self centered things that I, personally, can think of.  This story shows a supposed definition of love, just as Hollywood and our media portray it today.  Love is boiled down to one person gratifying their own needs.  This is in no way love.  As we read I Corinthians 13, the love chapter, we see the exact opposite of what Amnon displayed.  Amnon simply lusted after his half sister.  Sadly, Tamar even told him that the king would most likely give her to him to marry; but Amnon wanted what he wanted, and he wanted it right at that moment.  Although most of us will see this attitude as sickening on the “macro” level, some do not notice it on the “micro” level.  In counseling couples before marriage, I seldom see, in those young relationships, a true Agape love.  Most, not all, of the couples that I counsel with, truly are only looking to see how their future mate will meet their needs.  Seldom do I see a future mate focusing on how to meet the needs of their future spouse.  It is in our fallen nature to be selfish; the opposite of being Christ centered is being self centered, and self centered people focus on how others can meet their needs.

In the case of Amnon, he decided that a few minutes of what he desired would be worth ruining his sister’s life.  We also see a picture here of what God told us in
Exodus 34:6-7.  God says in those verses that He is merciful and forgiving, but the effects of sin go on through the third and fourth generation (this is not a direct quote).  David’s inappropriate sexual behavior is now showing up in the next generation.  Due to this sin of Amnon, there becomes a rift between David and Absalom.  I imagine that Absalom is furious that David did not punish or execute Amnon for his deed.  We will soon see the heart ache that Absalom causes David and the nation of Israel.  I believe that it all points back to that fateful day when David was not where he was supposed to be (II Sam. 11:1-3).

We will also see later that sexual immorality and the taking of wives from foreign lands who worship foreign Gods, will be the demise of Solomon also.  Sin never comes and goes without creating a terrible mess in our lives.

 
Pastor Steve

July 20th 2 Samuel chapter 12

In today’s reading we see some of the effects of sin in the life of one who has come to trust God in their life.  We, perhaps,  cannot see the eternal consequences, but we definitely see the immediate ones.  We would all be wise to understand what is happening in II Samuel chapter twelve.

As we discussed yesterday, David was a man after God’s own heart and David had a very close and continual relationship with God.  Although David was, most definitely, an amazing man  of God; he was not above sin or the effects of that sin.  We see the first effect of David’s sin at the beginning of the chapter when Nathan approaches him.  Nathan was a priest, which means mediator.  This was before Christ had come and taken away the sin of those who had repented so there was not yet a mediator between God and man in Christ Jesus.  God chose to speak through His priests.  David prayed often and sought the will of God; he had a great personal relationship with God.  But just as Adam in the garden of Eden, when sin arrived, that relationship was hindered.  God, in the garden, came looking for Adam because Adam was hiding from God.  In this chapter we see God sending His priest/mediator to David because that close relationship was now non-existent.  God does not tolerate sin, but strangely enough, we are the ones who hide from Him when we are involved in unrepentant sin.  He continues to seek us out and bring us to repentance.

So David is now being chastised by God, through Nathan.  It is very interesting that this priest does not come right out and accuse him of his wrong doing; he instead gives David a parable in order that David may understand.  David, just like us, when in an unrepentant state, do not clearly see our own sin.  Have we all not looked at others and immediately can see that they are way out of line?  Yet at the same time we usually have ways to justify our own sin, we minimize our own sin while exaggerating other’s sins.  This allows us to feel better about ourselves and continue to hide our own sin.  But we are only hiding it from ourselves.  Nathan gets a reaction of great anger and wrath from David before dropping on him that famous line: “you are that man.”  I don’t believe that Nathan would have been successful if he had just outright confronted him.  Nathan may have been put to death for speaking to a king in such a manner.  But amazingly, God does not use Nathan in order to approach David with wrath, He instead uses His priest to draw David to repentance insomuch that their relationship could be restored.  God was not a child sitting on an ant hill with a magnifying glass waiting for unsuspecting ants to crawl out in order that He may burn them up.  He, instead, is long-suffering toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

Another thing that we must, must realize is the fact that the effects of David’s sin still haunted him.  God had forgiven him (see Psalm 51 for David’s repentance) David still felt the ugly consequence of his sin.  David lost his child and in the future, his son will follow in his foot steps to the dismay of David and the nation of Israel.  David paid a high price for a cheap thrill.  Although we have forgiveness of sin in Christ Jesus, we still have to live through the effects of our sin.  God is not only trying to save us from eternal damnation; He is also trying to save us from our own sin before we destroy ourselves.

The last thing that I would like us to see today is that sin never effects only the sinner.  It effects all who are around us.  David was not the only one to suffer in this sad situation.  Bathsheba lost her husband and her first born child, men fell in battle needlessly losing their life in order to cause the death of Uriah, David’s son would mirror David’s sin and lastly, David’s son Absalom will (as we shall soon see) cause a rift in the kingdom which will almost tear it apart.

Back before restaurants had banned smoking, a waitress would ask “smoking or non-smoking?”  My wife and I asked for the non-smoking section one time and the waitress took us to our seat.  We were sitting on the border of these two sections and the only thing separating us from the smoking booth next to us was an 18″ wall between our two table tops.  As we left the restaurant our clothes and hair stunk of cigarette smoke.  Even though we were not involved in the “smoking section” we still stunk from its effects.  In the same way, our sin will cause it’s stench to remain on those who are closest to us.

 

Pastor Steve

July 19th 2 Samuel chapter 10&11

As we look into chapter 10 of Second Samuel there is something that we can glean that is not necessarily a spiritual lesson, but it is indeed a practical one.  As David tries to show respect for his friend king of Ammon who has just died he receives a response that he was not at all ready for.  We do have to keep in mind that David, in the recent past, found himself around some un-savory people to say the least.  Although David had an alliance with Hanun’s father, this man was not a friend to Israel.  Hanun’s father was an enemy of Saul and therefore became in alliance with David.  The people of Ammon were not the most trustworthy people, therefore they did not trust others either.  I have noticed when counseling couples that the individual who is the most jealous usually is so because they themselves have been unfaithful in the relationship.  We tend to view other people in a way that reflects our own thoughts and characteristics.  These untrustworthy men did not trust others because they realized that they, in the same circumstances, would act in an evil way.  Hanun was persuaded by counsel to act the way in which he did; Hanun foolishly surrounded himself with evil people.  Psalm chapter one is one of the psalms that is ambiguous as to who the author is.  I have to wonder if David wrote the first Psalm with Hanun in mind.  Here is the first verse of Psalm 1 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of the sinner, nor seats in the seat of the scornful…”

Once again we see the heart of David in reaching out to Hanun in the same way that he did for Mephibosheth, trying to show kindness.  I used to feel ignorant when falling into the trap of being naive but in all reality, naivety can be a good reflection of the heart.

Looking in chapter 11, we see David falls into the sin that he is most known for.  I believe that any one looking at this low point in David’s life has to wonder how he could suddenly fall into such a pit of terrible sin.  David was a man after God’s own heart, those are God’s words, not mine.  We see in reading these chapters in First and Second Samuel that David “sat before the Lord.”  That statement means that he prayed so long, that he could no longer physically kneel.  David was chosen by God as the youngest son of the smallest tribe; he was the 8th son in the line of Jesse.  David was humble, honored God and was respected among all people.  Yet, in one fell swoop, he became an adulterer, liar, deceiver and murderer.  If you would have asked this new king, just one week prior to the incident with Bathsheba, if he thought that he would be capable of such things, he would have emphatically said no.  So, we must ask; what happened?

I believe that we see the answer in the very beginning of the chapter.  It states that it was in the spring time when kings go off to war; but David remained at Jerusalem.  We see that pride has slipped into David’s life and he probably was not even aware of it.  David had led many battles in the past and kings usually went out to lead their troops; but David did not this spring.  Although I was not there, I can picture the men around David telling him what a wonderful king he truly was.  Israel was doing great and their enemies were almost vanquished on all sides of them.  I can imagine Joab and other leaders explaining to David that he was just too important to be going out to fight.  After all; what would the people do if David were to die.  After hearing this for some time, I imagine, David begins to believe it.  David probably began to think that indeed Israel would be lost without him.  This train of thought gives little room for God being the reason for Israel’s success.  Non the less David stayed home.

David is now in a place that he simply was not to be.  David finds himself on the lofty balcony of his palace looking over a kingdom of women with husbands who are off to war.  David becomes tempted and then gives in to that temptation.  I’m sure it wasn’t immediate, I would bet that he walked back and forth nervously on his balcony.  I don’t believe that he just caught a glimpse of this woman and then had her brought to him.  He most likely pondered and thought about it.  He went from a glance to a look, then from a look to a stair.  In those days people lived inside walled areas.  They would bathe outside because they had no running water or cast iron tubs.  No one would be able to see someone who was bathing,  but the king could from his elevated platform.  If David had not been where he was not supposed to be, none of this mess would have ever happened. If David had not become prideful, he would have been where he was supposed to be, with his men in battle.

When teaching the True Love Waits program to students for years, I used these verses to get a point across.  The point is that we should always realize that there is nothing below us.  James 1:14-15 states “every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed, then lust when it has conceived bringeth forth sin and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death.”  It is not that we as followers of Christ are strong enough to not fall into temptation, but that we should not be so prideful as to say “that would never happen to me.”  When we begin to think that sin is below us, we lose our guard and no longer become concerned with the things in which we are involved in.  But in humility, we realize that we need to stay away from temptation.  We should even stay away from any scenario that may lead us into temptation.  I always told students that a decision not to have sex before marriage is not good enough.  There has to be a plan.  Set up stops that prevent the possibility if you want to succeed.  A student who has made up their mind that they are going to abstain from sex before marriage as God has ordained, should never be alone with their boy/girl friend.  None of us should be so prideful as to flirt with disaster.  We should take on the traits of Joseph when being pursued by Potipher’s wife and run.  Not walk, not jog, but run!

David and the nation of Israel will pay dearly for the sin of David when sadly it all could have been avoided if he were just where he was supposed to be.  I can only imagine how many problems we would avoid if we were just where we needed to be.

Pastor Steve

July 15th 2 Samuel chapter 9

Today we see the kindness of David as king over Israel.  Mephibosheth was the grandson of Saul, the former king, and the son of Jonathon.  As I mentioned in an earlier post; it was common in that region for a new king to put to death any one from the former regime in order to protect themselves.  When David calls for Mephibosheth it is most likely that Mephibosheth was scared out of his wits.  Knowing that he was the last known heir of king Saul, Mephibosheth surely thought that this was the last day of his life.  We even see that he considers himself a “dead dog” in David’s presence.  David had no intentions of harming this young man.  Not only was he an heir of God’s anointed, but he was also the son of David’s best friend who had died.  If you recall, David and Jonathon made a pact with one another (I Sam. 18) because David loved Jonathon as he loved his own soul.  David transferred that love to Mephibosheth.  David knew nothing of Mephibosheth’s personality or loyalties, David never mentioned the fact that he was crippled or the fact that, at one time, his family was trying their hardest to kill David.  David, due to the fact that he loved Jonathon and had made a covenant with Jonathon, decided to love Mephibosheth unconditionally.  More than sparing his life, David set him at the kings table.  This crippled enemy of the king was now dining with royalty.

Do you see the picture here?  God the Father, due to the love for His Son, has taken us, His former enemy (Rom 3:10, Rom 3:23) and accepted us.  Not only in salvation from eternal death, but has set us at the table of royalty.  He has removed our sin and we are now, as it says in Ephesians 1:6 “accepted in the beloved.”  Just as king David had this young mans feet covered by the table in which he sat, God has covered our sin and they are too no longer visible.  We sit at the table of the King, just as His Son sits at the table.

Mephibosheth did not go looking for the king in order to gain mercy, he instead hid from the king.  Mephibosheth would not have been able to come to the king if he would have wanted to; he was crippled.  Someone had to bring him to the throne of the great King. King David went and found him, brought him before his throne and accepted him, due to the covenant that was made with Jonathon.  We, as believers,  did not go looking for the King, He instead found us.  Romans 5:8 says “But God commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”  He found us!  We see a perfect picture of Christ and His mercy in this Old Testament story.

I have chill bumps as I write this today because I remember that day in which He found me and set me in a place of royalty.  He looked at my pathetic, sinful, morally crippled life, and seeing that I had nothing to offer, He chose to love me unconditionally not because of  who I was, but because of who His Son was.  His Son is Jesus Christ.

 

Pastor Steve

July 14th 2 Samuel chapter 8

In today’s reading we see the blessing of God on David and upon Israel.  We need to notice the first verse which states “in the course of time.”  These things did not happen immediately, God was continually blessing David.   David did not go out as Alexander the Great, Napoleon or Hitler grabbing as much land as he could.  David protected the people of Israel, removed their enemies and recovered the land that the enemy had taken from them.  David was restoring the borders that God had promised Abraham (Gen 15:18-21).  The new king of Israel did not hate all of his neighbors, but he did not back down from his enemies.  Perhaps, for the first time, Israel had respect in the area.  Nations would now think twice before picking a fight with David.

Something a bit off topic that I want to mention.  David had hamstrung all but one-hundred of the enemies horses.  I don’t believe that David was a hater of animals or that he was cruel.  We see the story in II Samuel 12 that Nathan used a ewe lamb in an illustration to arouse David’s anger.  He became irate over the thought of a man’s pet being killed.  David hamstrung the horses for two reasons.  First of all, there was no way that he could care for and feed that many animals with out proper planning and provisions.  If David had released them they would have landed back in the enemies hands.  Secondly David, I believe, was keenly aware of the law of God.  If you look at Deuteronomy 17:15-16 it is said that the king of Israel would not multiply horses for himself, but instead would trust in the Lord for deliverance.  We also see in those verses that the king was not to seek riches and gold for himself.  David committed all the plunder to God and the temple.  These items now hung in the tabernacle as a testimony of the strength of God.  They did not hang on his own walls to give glory to the king.  David was doing well with most of what is mentioned in Deuteronomy; but he fell short in the fact that he did seek for himself many wives.  His son Solomon would follow suite and it would cause great havoc in the nation of Israel.

David humbled himself before God and God lifted Him up.  Saul lifted himself up before God and God humbled Him.  God still works in the same way today as He did back then.  He will always lift the head of the humble and humiliate the proud.  It will do us well to remember to give God the glory in His victories.

Pastor Steve

July 13th 2 Samuel chapter 7

In today’s reading we see the heart of David in the fact that he wants to build a house for God.  David wants a place for the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat.  David looks around at what he has, where he lives and all the comforts that have come his way. He comes to realize that he has stuck God outside in a tent.  Although I usually refrain from reading outside authors in our studies insomuch that I do not repeat what you may be studying on at home,  today I did.  I picked up J. Vernon McGee and read what he had to say on this chapter.  Dr. McGee stated that he imagined it being a rainy night when David came to this revelation.  He continued that he imagined David hearing the noise of the rain being deflected off of his roof and thought how wrong it was that he had left the ark of the covenant in a tent.  He went on to say that he imagined David, in his mind, even hearing the flapping of the canvas in the wind and this troubled him.

Oh how things would be different if God’s people, the church of today, had the same mindset as David did.  When taking an Old Testament survey class through Boyce Bible College my professor, who was a pastor, explained his frustration with many people in his congregation.  He told how a lot people want to “donate” their junk to the local church.  He spoke of torn and tattered items with no value which would be brought in by people who thought that they were doing such a great service to God and His church.  They were bringing these items because they had purchased new items for their home.  As he went on he became very passionate when he stated “Don’t bring God your junk!  We are to bring God our best.”  I believe that this is what David was thinking when he began picturing  a temple for God.

God would not allow David to build Him a house because he had too much blood on his hands, but even so, God did something amazing; He credited David for his heart on the matter.  God then in turn tells David that He, would instead, build David a house.  But God was speaking of an everlasting kingdom.  This is a huge chapter in the Bible because the rest of scripture hangs on this covenant that God made with David.  God was not talking about Solomon only, but He was talking about the Messianic line.  There are fifty nine instances in the New Testament that this covenant is mentioned by calling the Messiah “Son of David.”  This Descendant of David will have an eternal rule that will never fade away.  This future Son of David will be the stone that was cut without hands in the first few chapters of the book of Daniel in which all of the other nations will be smashed into powder. Out of David’s line would come the King of kings and Lord of lords.

David understood the prophesy and, as we see, was genuinely humbled  and over whelmed. Then we see in verse 25 that David believes and trusts in the Word of God.  This is, perhaps, the moment of David’s salvation.  Just as we see in the life of Abraham and so many other Old Testament saints in Hebrews chapter 11 that righteousness comes by faith.  People, before the life of Jesus in the flesh, were saved by faith, looking forward to the cross and trusting God.  We today are saved by faith in trusting what Jesus did on the cross.  We are all saved by faith.

I hope that you will continue as we are in the Word together. As we talked about righteousness being given by faith please remember the words of Romans 10:17  in which we see “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”  So, righteousness comes by faith…faith comes by hearing…and hearing comes by the Word of God.  We need to stay daily in His Word.

 

Pastor Steve

July 11th 2 Samuel chapter 6

Although today’s reading is in chapter six, we need to begin in chapter five in order to bring chapter six into perspective.  We read in chapter five that Uzzha put out his hand in order to brace the ark of the covenant lest it fall. The scripture clearly stated that God’s anger was aroused and that He killed Uzzah.  With out a full realization of scripture,and the law, one may think that God is just an angry, vengeful God looking for an occasion that He may zap one of us; but this is simply not true.  If you remember from our reading in first Samuel; Eli and the nation of Israel used the ark as some kind of “lucky rabbits foot” while going into battle against the Philistines (you can scroll down and find the post from April 21st I Samuel chapter four).  God had chosen the ark to be a picture of Christ.  On the ark we see the mercy seat and cherubim covering the mercy seat with their wings.  It is a picture of the throne of God.  People would in later years come to the Temple, in which the mercy seat was placed, in order to worship and make sacrifice for sins.  It tells us in Hebrews that the law was a “shadow of the good things to come.”

One can not simply come to God how ever they see fit.  God is very specific in how it is  supposed to happen.  First one is drawn by the Father, then when confronted with their sin they repent and trust in Christ.  This is the only formula for salvation and a relationship with God; therefore it is the only formula for mercy.  No one is permitted to trifle with it; and if they do, eternal damnation lay in wait for them.  This is why God was so specific in his words to Moses and Israel in regards to the design, transport and treatment of the ark of the covenant.  God had shown them that man is only to approach on God’s terms.

When David ordered the ark to be brought to Jerusalem, his desire for it was not wrong, or outside the will of God. But the law stated that the ark was to be carried by poles that were to be places inside of specific rings made just for that purpose(Exodus chapter 25).  This did not occur on this day.  The people instead built a new cart for the ark in order to bring it to Jerusalem. God’s anger was not kindled due to the man trying to steady the ark; God showed His anger because man had himself decided how he would handle the very throne of God.

As we begin to apply this to our own lives we need to realize some things.  A new cart was a much more majestic way of carrying and showing the people that the ark had returned.  David and his men had added (or changed) God’s method of handling the mercy seat indeed; but to their defense, they were trying to show even more reverence for what God had given them.  Knowing Davis’s heart and his excitement in regards to the ark coming to Jerusalem, can you imagine what that cart would have looked like?  I would be willing to wager that there had never been, and probably has not been since, a cart as magnificent as the one that they had constructed.  But God was clear, as He spoke to The previous king through Samuel when Samuel said “To obey is better than sacrifice.”  

We need to be very careful how we approach God.  We can dress ourselves up with all of the good works that we like; but at the end of the day they are worthless.  We must come to God on His terms: Broken over our sin, repentant and trusting in Him.  Any other approach than this is disastrous and will not be tolerated by God.

When David and the nation of Israel were obedient and brought the ark to Jerusalem as God had commanded, there was joy and great rejoicing of the people.  God began to bless them and allowed David (as we will soon see) to begin gathering materials for the building of the temple.  God did not want Israel to be separated from Him or to be destroyed; man simply;y needed to come to Him on His terms.

Pastor Steve

July 8th 2 Samuel chapter 5

I am not going to go in great detail in today’s reading because it goes hand-in-hand with Mondays.  But there is something that we can glean from the early part of this chapter today. It seems that the nation of Israel may have been held back from uniting due to the leadership of one man. After Abner he had died, the people came together and told David that he was anointed by God and that they would put themselves under his authority.   This was not a new revelation to them, it is something they had already known.  Under the leadership of Abner they were unwilling to do the will of God. It is very important to us as we lead in different areas of life to realize the responsibility that we have. Some lead in government, some in their households, some in their workplace and then some in the church. Regardless of gender or where that leadership is; it affects those around us greatly. If we lead poorly or in a bad spirit we very well may cause a great deal of heart ache for those who are following us. I believe this May be why Paul addresses teachers in the epistles telling them that they have a stricter judgment. As we see in the life of Abner, many people can be out of the will of God due to how we lead and react to situations in life.

 

Pastor Steve

July 7th II Samuel chapter 4

In today’s reading we begin to see the caricature of  king David and perhaps why God had chosen him for the position of king.  Looking at history, we see that most men, when obtaining the position of king, become paranoid and violent.  The fear of someone taking their position seems all to often to permeate the lives of these men.  We see, in much more recent history than what we are reading here, the acts of the leaders of Rome.  We can also see the life of Herod and others who were not even kings, only governors working for the Roman empire.  Herod killed many of his own family due to his fear of losing the throne.  Most kings seem to take on the characteristics of gangsters upon obtaining the throne.  We will see later in the history of the kings of Israel and Judah that their fear was probably not in vain; but their methods were cruel and absolute.

David, whom God said had a heart after His own, was not stuck in this mind set.  David had fought for years against real enemies and he wanted no part of the killing or the mistreating of his own people, much less the family of God’s anointed.  These men, who killed Saul’s son, thought they were going to be praised by the king for their actions.  I can almost see in the words on the page showing the smug smile on their faces as they awaited their rewards.  But their cowardliness only led to their demise.

I thought as I read these verses today about yesterday’s post.  When we looked in Isaiah and saw where God’s ways and His thoughts are so much higher than our own.  As I contemplated this, I began to wonder at how much harder it is to know the will of God.  If these men could not understand the will of an earthly king who was much like themselves; how much farther will we fall short when we try to guess at what God’s will is.  If these men would have simply placed themselves under the authority of the king and obeyed his commends, all would have been well.  But sadly, they did not.  How much more tragic is it when we try to decipher the will of God while not placing ourselves under His authority.  He has given orders in His Word on how to live, act and treat others; yet we so often leave that book on a shelf and try and guess what the King would have us do.  In the end it only leads to destruction.

I hope that you are enjoying our study together.  These two books are so intriguing that it is hard to study just one chapter a day sometimes!

 

Pastor Steve